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How do I stop my puppy from biting?

Puppy chewing toy

(Q) Could you please tell me how to stop my 13-week-old puppy from biting? She bites my feet, toes, arms, legs — in fact, any part of me she can get hold of. It’s driving me mad!

(A) Trainer Elizabeth Kershaw says: Puppies bite! Thirteen weeks is a typical age for puppies to increase their biting. There are two good reasons for this. Firstly, your dog is right in the middle of teething and needs to bite something. Secondly, as she doesn’t have any bite inhibition at present it means that she hasn’t yet learned to control the strength of her bite.

The best person to teach her this lesson is another, slightly older dog, as most of them won’t tolerate a bite which causes pain. As I suspect that you dance up and down and protest loudly, biting becomes a wonderful game — the puppy thinks: “Look what I can make Mum do!”

There are several things you can do. Squealing in pain, which works well with puppies up to about nine or 10 weeks, rarely works with slightly older puppies. In fact, it usually makes things worse. Immediately stopping what you’re doing and freezing often does help. Transferring her attention on to a ragger or other legitimate chew toy is useful. Have an abundance of these handy.

Immediate isolation to an indoor kennel, another room, or the garden without interacting in any way may help. Basically your puppy needs to learn that putting teeth on human skin isn’t acceptable and that there’s a consequence. As soon as you feel teeth, all fun interacting with the puppy stops, only resuming after a short time out. It won’t stop immediately. You must make available legitimate objects to chew such as toys and bones. But it should reduce the pain over time!

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